Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Understanding

Yefrem opened his book again, but he was reading lines without understanding what they meant. He soon realized this.

He did not understand what he was reading because he was disturbed and worried by what was happening in the ward and outside in the corridor. In order to understand, he had to remember that he wasn't going to get anywhere any more; that he would never change things or convince anyone of anything, that he had only a few numbered days in which to straighten out his life.

Only then would the book's meaning reveal itself. ... -p. 115, Cancer Ward, Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Several years ago, I used to go to a hair salon nearby, to a Russian-Jewish lady. We mostly talked about her family, her high school daughter with an unwanted pregnancy, and things of that nature. One time, for a forgotten reason, she started petting my head and repeating several times, ``let it go!'' What I remember clearly was a feeling of unease that took me over, as if something ominous was about to happen. I think something happened that day, but I am not sure what, and the memory stayed with me. We never talked about that afterwards, and after a while, I stopped going there.




Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Essence of Faith

`` ... he knows that if he broke it all off of himself, without a word from me, without even speaking of it to me, without expecting anything from me, I should have felt differently to him and perhaps might have become his friend. He knows that for a fact. But he has a dirty soul. He knows it, but can't bring himself to it; he knows it, but still he asks for a guarantee. He can't act on faith. He wants me to give him hope of my hand, ...'' pp. 80-81, The Idiot, Fyodor Dostoevsky

The essence of faith is ``acting without guarantees'' and it involves some degree of surrender. The opposite of faith is ``taking hostage'' and ``demanding ransom''!

``The essence of religious feeling does not come under any sort of reasoning or atheism, and has nothing to do with any crimes or misdemeanours. There is something else here, and there will always be something else---something that the atheists will for ever slur away; they will always be talking os something else.'' p. 213, The IdiotFyodor Dostoevsky

What we do not fully appreciate is that most people act on faith regularly throughout their life. Even the simple act of going to sleep (or surrendering to it) involves faith as the following article (Falling for Sleep, by Rubin Naiman, link) beautifully articulate:

``To fall asleep naturally, as opposed to just crashing into sleep when our wings melt, or knocking ourselves out with alcohol or drugs, we must be willing to do two things. We need to lose our mind – to surrender our waking sense of self. And we need to invoke sleep.

As the body settles into bed, our challenge is to let go of our ordinary mind, our waking sense of self. This part of us, the part of us we usually call I, is simply incapable of sleeping. It can walk us to the shoreline of the sea of sleep, but it can’t swim.

By definition, the part of us we call I can do only waking. Because wakism holds that this I is all that there is to us, it reinforces our addiction to waking and our reluctance to fall asleep. ‘I cannot sleep’, the universal slogan of insomnia, is inherently valid. Believing that the waking self needs to learn to sleep is a set-up.

From the perspective of our waking self, falling asleep is an accident. We can only slip, slide or trip into it. Taking on falling asleep as a problem is the ultimate trap. We cannot intentionally cause an accident, which is what the waking self persistently tries to do. Letting go of the waking self is an act of humility.

In doing so, we open more to thinking of something outside of our self – to inviting sleep.'' Falling for Sleep, by Rubin Naimanlink


Clear Shallow Water

I started reading this novel, `` The Driver ,'' by Hart Hanson , and I did not like it much and decided to stop. But then I came ba...